I spent a month saying ‘No’ to illustration work and this is what happened;

In the lead up to July I’d had a few conversations with fellow creatives where I compared myself to a hamster stuck on it’s wheel having forgotten that to get off you just need to slow down! I was feeling burnt out, pulled in every direction and unsure what to spend my time on. So I decided that I needed to start saying no.

I’m constantly haunted by the ‘Freelance Spectre’ a ghost whispering in my ear that I’ll never get another offer of work if I turn this one down! So for the month of July 2018 I turned off that ghoulish record and set myself the challenge of saying no to any and ALL offers. (Obviously if THE dream client had got in touch with THE perfect job I would have put the experiment on hold, but that didn’t happen!) This is what happened.....

  1. I worked through my to do list; for example screen printing the remaining few prints on a couple of editions, a time consuming task which I’ve been putting off for months!
  2. I made some new personal work; finally developing some ideas that I’ve been thinking about for a while, designing new work for my portfolio and new products for my shop which will be useful as we move towards the winter months!
  3.  I got on top of my accounts; Like many creatives I hate the financial side of running a business ignoring it until I have to deal with it. It’s a major weakness that I need to overcome, so I started using an accounting software called Xero to help me! I’m now weirdly loving looking at my finances because for once they are organised!
  4. I got on top of my emails; ever heard of email debt forgiveness day? You get the idea! 
  5. I said yes (whoops) to one indie collaboration with a brand whose ethics I really admire because I had a gut feeling of excitement about it and I always listen to my gut! This also weirdly helped me say no even more, as if you aren’t excited about at least one aspect of a job then why do it? 
  6. Apart from that one yes, I said No for a whole month; as a result I’ve become a lot more comfortable with saying No, something I’ve always struggled with.
New Bandana idea, Personal work July 2018

New Bandana idea, Personal work July 2018

This experiment has left me feeling a lot more relaxed about work (an afternoon on the sofa with my cross stitch has happened this week!) Stepping off the hamster wheel has given me way more perspective on my business and what i want to focus on. I'm going to continue on saying no going forward because taking on more projects means spreading myself too thin and leaving no time for nurturing personal work.

To wrap up; saying No is important no matter what stage you are in your career; as a new illustrator taking on a job that doesn't suit you stylistically can leave you confused and with an incoherent portfolio. As an experienced creative saying yes to everything leaves you with mediocre work and burnout. Finally definitely say NO to unpaid 'exposure' work as it devalues the whole industry. BUT say yes to collaborating with fellow creatives on cool (possibly unpaid) projects that excite you and that you want to see in your portfolio!  

Did you like this post, do you have something to add? Let me know in the comments! 

Jacqueline x

New Bandana idea, Personal work July 2018

New Bandana idea, Personal work July 2018

London's top 5 Craft & illustration Fairs

Applications and call out's for the Market season ahead are opening, don't miss your chance to exhibit at London's top craft and illustration fairs! I've rounded up some of my faves below;

Renegade Craft Fair 2018

Renegade Craft Fair 2018

  1. Crafty Fox These guys were at the forefront of the craft market scene and for that reason they know how to put on an amazing event that is a delight for customers and stallholders alike, now in residency at 'Mercato Metropolitano' in Borough
  2. The London Illustration Fair Aimed more at illustration but they have a wide variety of exhibitors and the space at the Oxo tower wharf is amazing! This is a long 3 and a half day event and it's constantly busy with visitors!
  3. Renegade Our friends from across the pond visit once a year to host an extravaganza of an event filling the Truman Brewery with an eclectic mix of the UK's best design, craft and illustration practitioners I've done this event three years in a row!
  4. Illustrator's Fair - The House of Illustration host a biannual illustrator's fair under the canopy outside their venue at Granary Square King's Cross, usually attracting close to 100 vendors the market is buzzing with inspiring work!
  5. Urban Maker's East - These guys are super on it, regularly hosting events, pop ups and markets around the East End of London in great venues
Exhibiting at the London Illustration Fair December 2018

Exhibiting at the London Illustration Fair December 2018

Top tips: If you are interested in applying to any markets now or in the future then get subscribed to their mailing list to hear about what opportunities are coming up and when to apply. Also many of them run really awesome blogs filled with top tips for getting prepped for a fair and articles on what to bring etc!

Twitter UK Header illustration

I was so excited to be invited by Ralph Creative to create 'A very British Summer' illustration for Twitter UK's header in July 2018 we decided to go with a Wimbledon plus Strawberries & Cream theme and I used an isometric grid to create the pattern as I wanted to capture those views over Wimbledon with all the courts and stands!

The final pattern

The final pattern

Work in progress

Work in progress

Twitter's header artwork for July

Twitter's header artwork for July

Lucky Dip Club Collaboration!

Lucky Dip Club is an awesome surprise subscription box full of fun and colour! I was so excited to collaborate with the lovely Leona of Lucky Dip Club! She had seen my plants illustrations and wanted me to create a design that would 'wrap' around the sock. The theme for the months box was 'Grow' and I was very happy that Leona also asked to use my Houseplant pattern to decorate the box! Check it out below! :D

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Palm Springs Range at Ohh Deer

I am so excited to see my collaboration with Ohh Deer hitting the shops, seeing the combination of two of my big loves; Palm Springs and Stationery come together is pretty special! You can shop the whole range here Also check out this delicious styled up shoot below; *heart eyes* I love working with brands and seeing my ideas taken further than I could take them single handedly. If you'd like to work with me please get in touch I'd love to hear from you!

Join the Papergang!

Sounds menacing right? A group that unflinchingly inflict paper based injuries on their foes...! However it is actually a beautiful stationery subscription box from Ohh Deer and this month they have collaborated with me and my Palm Springs print! You can download the print as a wallpaper here Read about my process or bag yourself a box here!

The London Illustration Fair

I was so excited to exhibit for the first time last weekend at The London Illustration Fair The event was so busy with lots of lovely people stopping by to chat and say hi! I had a great time selling prints, cards pins and Patches to lots of new faces! I also enjoyed cutting out some of my signature paper cut leaves to Jungle-up my stand! If you'd like to catch me at another market I'll be at Renegade craft fair in the Truman Brewery off Brick Lane this Saturday and Sunday; the 9th & 10th of December and my final market is a Crafty Fox Night market at the Geffrye Museum on the 14th! Perfect events for shopping indie this Christmas!

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Christmas Markets

It's that time of year again! I'll be popping up at a couple of Creative Christmas Markets selling an array of tropical patterned products including my new zip purses. Alongside a growing selection of Risograph and Screen prints! I'm getting lots of new limited editions ready as I'm excited to be taking part in The London Illustration Fair at the Oxo Tower, Barge house on the 1st to the 3rd of December. It's an event that I've really enjoyed visiting for the past few years so I'm very happy to be involved. I'll also be at Renegade the following weekend and a late night Crafty Fox at the Geffrye Museum. I would love to see you at one or all of these pop ups so please come by and say hi! :D

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Market time!

Holiday season is almost upon us and that means applying to lots of Craft Markets and Illustration Fairs! This year I'm excited to be taking part in a couple of Crafty Fox Markets which I always love! (You can see all my event listing at the top right hand side of my blog) I'm also applying to take part in Renegade Craft Fair which I've loved doing as an annual event for the last two years! Another fair which I've enjoyed visiting in the past but I'm a newbie to applying is The London Illustration Fair which has an awesome location! So fingers crossed for getting accepted to lots of markets and having a busy season! Here are a couple of snaps from events this summer so you can see what my market set up might look like!

RHS Urban Garden Show

RHS Urban Garden Show

House of Illustration Summer Fair

House of Illustration Summer Fair

Renegade 2016

Renegade 2016